San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

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At The Movies With Josh: Daddio

Writer/director Christy Hall is a playwright, and her first movie feels a bit like a play.

“Daddio” is an interesting two-hander. It’s lucky for Hall that she got one of the best actors of all time (Sean Penn), and one of my least favorite actresses (Dakota Johnson), who actually gave the best performance I’ve ever seen from her.

There have been a lot of films that just deal with two people talking to each other in one setting. I saw a great short last week called “Death of the Rose Bush” that had two women arguing in a kitchen the entire time. I remember loving when David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” went from the stage to the screen, with Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz around 28 years ago. I even remember a movie with just one person in a car the entire time (the highly overrated “Locke” with Tom Hardy).

Dakota Johnson (with blonde hair), gets in a taxi at JFK. Her cabbie Clark (Sean Penn) is driving her home. There’s construction and car accidents along the way, which lead to some in-depth talk on a variety of topics (mostly relationships).

It sometimes looks like Johnson is flirting, although that wasn’t the intent (perhaps it’s just the “50 Shades” texts we see her having with a lover). Clark, who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, is a bit too crude. My wife and I both think the interaction would’ve played better if he wasn’t such an opinionated a-hole so early on. So while we realize no two people would go down this path, with such profound revelations, you’re willing to let that all slide. That’s easy to do when you’re never bored. 

I actually think both of these people aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are, or how most people (and the screenwriter) think they are. Again, that doesn’t mean you’re bored listening to their hot takes. 

And just when we think we can’t take any more of Clark’s idiocracy, he’ll apologize for running his mouth and pushing buttons. 

When they share stories and she asks about his first wife, you remember just how great an actor Penn is. As he tells the story (after he had previously said how dumb she was), he gets sad thinking about how much he misses her. It’s a surprisingly moving scene.

Cinematographer Phedon Papmichael does a terrific job with how he shot the city and the cab.

I glanced at what a few other critics said, and was surprised that so many gave away things about the movie. So I won’t go into all the conversations they had. Some were interesting. A few segments were overwritten and felt manufactured, though.

I mention in reviews how 87% of all movies have a vomit scene. This didn’t have one, but there was talk about throwing up.

One of the other things I always notice on screen, is how often people in cars stare at their passengers instead of the road in front of them. Clark does that a lot here.

If I was a programmer of a movie website, and you watched this, I might next time have something pop up on your screen that says “If you liked Daddio, you might like ‘Collateral” (Tom Cruise had blonde hair like Johnson, too).” I might also say “You might also like ‘My Dinner With Andre.”

Oh, and “Daddio” is the stupidest title you could have for this movie. Either “Daddy” or “Cabbie” would’ve been so much better.

3 stars out of 5.

Photo: Getty Images

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